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Why Niceness Weakens Our Witness


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20 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Generally I heard from leadership above a district leader once a month and district leaders just took reports. You are generally controlled as much as you allow yourself to be. Missionaries have gone off and done all kinds of crazy. There is no one there to tell you to get out of bed or to do the work or whatever except (maybe) your companion. I just don't see it as particularly controlling. I was genuinely curious if missionary life had changed.

I was a missionary a couple of years ago. My situation was probably different than most because I was in urban Los Angeles and all of us missionaries were very close together. We saw our zone and district leaders every week for district meetings and we saw the APs and President twice every six weeks for zone conference and the once-a-transfer interviews with the President. We'd get trainings from DLs every week. We'd also go on a couple of exchanges every six weeks where we'd swap companions and train or get trained for a day. So in my experience mission leadership was more integrated into the weekly life of the missionary then you experienced. But it's not like they were totally nannying us. When it comes to the day-to-day grind you're right, you were as controlled as you chose to be. 

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28 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Generally I heard from leadership above a district leader once a month and district leaders just took reports. You are generally controlled as much as you allow yourself to be. Missionaries have gone off and done all kinds of crazy. There is no one there to tell you to get out of bed or to do the work or whatever except (maybe) your companion. I just don't see it as particularly controlling. I was genuinely curious if missionary life had changed.

 

26 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Maybe Nehor is talking about how, though there are rules and "supervisors," no one is around to make sure rules are being followed and the supervisors are not very hands on.

Missionaries may have a rule of being out of the house at a certain time in the morning or doing so many hours of proselytizing work a week, but no one makes sure those rules are followed.  A missionary or companionship could stay in the house all week for example, if they wanted to.  Especially in those instances where the zone leader and mission president are hundreds of miles away (which isn't at all unusual).   

For perpective, since Hamba and I were drawing comparisons between the early church and present, aren't missionaries much more supervised and controlled now than they were then?

 

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7 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

 

For perpective, since Hamba and I were drawing comparisons between the early church and present, aren't missionaries much more supervised and controlled now than they were then?

 

Definitely. 

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12 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

I was a missionary a couple of years ago. My situation was probably different than most because I was in urban Los Angeles and all of us missionaries were very close together. We saw our zone and district leaders every week for district meetings and we saw the APs and President twice every six weeks for zone conference and the once-a-transfer interviews with the President. We'd get trainings from DLs every week. We'd also go on a couple of exchanges every six weeks where we'd swap companions and train or get trained for a day. So in my experience mission leadership was more integrated into the weekly life of the missionary then you experienced. But it's not like they were totally nannying us. When it comes to the day-to-day grind you're right, you were as controlled as you chose to be. 

I served in northern Cali along the coast and inland through Napa Valley. It wasn’t unusual for us to be 5+ hours from the mission President and APs. Zone leaders were usually closer. 

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44 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I served in northern Cali along the coast and inland through Napa Valley. It wasn’t unusual for us to be 5+ hours from the mission President and APs. Zone leaders were usually closer. 

Beautiful place. I was never more than an hour and a half's drive from the mission office. Nowhere in the mission was, even in LA traffic. 

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2 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

 

For perpective, since Hamba and I were drawing comparisons between the early church and present, aren't missionaries much more supervised and controlled now than they were then?

 

Yes. Back then they just started walking towards their mission area and went from there. If you were lucky you might be in an area where you could acquire materials. They were also often (but not always) older and in their 30s and 40s.

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2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

I was a missionary a couple of years ago. My situation was probably different than most because I was in urban Los Angeles and all of us missionaries were very close together. We saw our zone and district leaders every week for district meetings and we saw the APs and President twice every six weeks for zone conference and the once-a-transfer interviews with the President. We'd get trainings from DLs every week. We'd also go on a couple of exchanges every six weeks where we'd swap companions and train or get trained for a day. So in my experience mission leadership was more integrated into the weekly life of the missionary then you experienced. But it's not like they were totally nannying us. When it comes to the day-to-day grind you're right, you were as controlled as you chose to be. 

We were usually housed in groups of four missionaries instead of two due to the conditions there. This is not the preferred method and I can definitely see why but it was fun and meant that usually there was a 50/50 chance there was a district leader in the house I was in so we saw them regularly.

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Our mission (Germany Hamburg, mid 90s) swapped Schwerin for Halberstadt with the Berlin mission during my mission. When I was transferred there, we installed the first phone (former DDR). It was a train ride of several hours away from the nearest city with missionaries, and something like an 8 hour train ride to the mission home/mission office. It was a nice kind of isolation. 

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15 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I think this is exactly opposite to the truth. The Church is specifically set up to try to teach young people to receive revelation -- including seeing visions, dreaming dreams, and prophesying. In the case of young men, which is where I have personal experience, this is specifically why we organise them into quorums beginning at age 12, call and set apart presidencies, and even give presidents genuine priesthood keys. If you look closely at everything that has been (re-)emphasised in the youth space over the past two years, the goal is to make sure that otherwise well-meaning adults get out of the way as necessary and let this happen. The learn/do/share principles of Come, Follow Me are exactly what the School of the Prophets was set up for.

As both a Young Men president and a counsellor over Young Men in two bishoprics, I used to ask the boys if their school teachers, rugby coaches, etc. took them seriously. The answer, of course, was always no. And then I would emphasise that we and God took them seriously and expected them to step up and learn to lead by revelation. It sometimes took time, but it always worked! And like the Seventy in Jesus's day, these boys would 'return again with joy' over the experiences they had had. And then they went on missions and came home even stronger. And at this point, every single one of them is active, and one of them is counsellor in our bishopric, and I see him every week working with individual deacons to get them to have their own experiences too.

Failing to raise up sons and daughters who prophesy and see visions merely creates cultural 'Mormons', the primary pool from which ex-Mormons emerge.

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams" - Acts 2:17, citing Joel 2:28

Nice scripture reference ;). Peter and Joel had an inkling of what was to come.

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On 12/9/2020 at 8:20 AM, Dan McClellan said:

I think there's a place for this argument when it comes to prioritizing doing the right thing over the feelings of people in positions of power and privilege, but I think the argument gets misappropriated by a lot of people who want to use it as an excuse for being a jerk about their beliefs. Once people start framing loving their neighbor as about being aggressive and belligerent about what their neighbor needs, or what's best for them, I think they've crossed over into precisely that hypocrisy that Jesus condemned. Also, saying "he was kind, but he was not nice" is just silly. Those are synonyms. 

It’s interesting that you say nice and kind are synonyms because I’ve just returned to this board after conducting a search under the terms “nice vs kind,” and, for what it’s worth, literally scores of articles turned up, many of which assert that being nice is more of a surface affect employed to prevent potential unpleasantness, while kindness toward others springs forth from hearts of genuine goodness that are committed to doing the right thing for it’s own sake. Like I said, for what it’s worth...

Edited by teddyaware
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On 12/9/2020 at 6:43 PM, juliann said:

I see two distinct issues here. The videos themselves (see my pinned board nanny thread!) and the reactions.  As of this moment, I don't think niceness is the point in the very, very big picture. It isn't even questioned, actually, but it sure is used as a weapon rather than dealing with the underlying problem.

I started with and I'm going to end with the problem of double standards and hypocrisy in a tiny bubble of a world of Mormons and Mormon detractors. We can all make nice speeches and make sure we position ourselves to be seen on the popular side of things but nothing is going to change until the double standards are addressed. 

I would like to see FM compile a database of all of the official statements, articles, conference talks about treating our detractors kindly. Then I would like to challenge the detractors to produce something similar about behavioral standards for them, albeit not from official sources. Because I am not seeing it in their forums. What I do see and have since the creation of this board, is that Nemesis had to do mass bannings just to be able to have one place where believing Mormons could gather without being harrassed, defamed, and ridiculed. We cannot even get away from those who do this when we ask. Nicely. 

No more double standards. 

I would have loved to upvote this a hundred times.

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17 hours ago, teddyaware said:

It’s interesting that you say nice and kind are synonyms because I’ve just returned to this board after conducting a search under the terms “nice vs kind,” and, for what it’s worth, literally scores of articles turned up, many of which assert that being nice is more of a surface affect employed to prevent potential unpleasantness, while kindness toward others springs forth from hearts of genuine goodness that are committed to doing the right thing for it’s own sake. Like I said, for what it’s worth...

I also looked up the etymologies of both words. The root words of nice mean that which is silly or frivolous. Meanwhile, kind has its root in the word kindred; so when someone is being kind they’re treating others as if they are family.

Edited by teddyaware
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On 12/12/2020 at 8:30 PM, teddyaware said:

It’s interesting that you say nice and kind are synonyms because I’ve just returned to this board after conducting a search under the terms “nice vs kind,” and, for what it’s worth, literally scores of articles turned up, many of which assert that being nice is more of a surface affect employed to prevent potential unpleasantness, while kindness toward others springs forth from hearts of genuine goodness that are committed to doing the right thing for it’s own sake. Like I said, for what it’s worth...

Every dictionary I look in (e.g., Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, MacMillian, etc.) lists "kind" as being one of the definitions of the word "nice," so I don't see how one could argue that it isn't a synonym. 

Now, it's true that the word "nice" doesn't carry only that one meaning, so sure, you could distinguish other uses of the word from that particular definition - I'm sure lots of people have written articles about "nice vs kind," "neat vs organized," or some such similar pairing - but that doesn't strike me as especially clever.

And, again, for me it really isn't about synonyms, it's about antonyms. What is the opposite of "nice"? 

The answer to that question is almost invariably something not Christlike (e.g., intolerable, seedy, abominable, hateful, etc.).

Like I said before, I don't have any problem with someone saying Jesus was not "nice" (where, by "nice" you really only mean polite).

But when someone says Jesus was "not nice," well, that sounds like they are saying something a bit more controversial. 

 

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34 minutes ago, Amulek said:

Every dictionary I look in (e.g., Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, MacMillian, etc.) lists "kind" as being one of the definitions of the word "nice," so I don't see how one could argue that it isn't a synonym. 

Now, it's true that the word "nice" doesn't carry only that one meaning, so sure, you could distinguish other uses of the word from that particular definition - I'm sure lots of people have written articles about "nice vs kind," "neat vs organized," or some such similar pairing - but that doesn't strike me as especially clever.

And, again, for me it really isn't about synonyms, it's about antonyms. What is the opposite of "nice"? 

The answer to that question is almost invariably something not Christlike (e.g., intolerable, seedy, abominable, hateful, etc.).

Like I said before, I don't have any problem with someone saying Jesus was not "nice" (where, by "nice" you really only mean polite).

But when someone says Jesus was "not nice," well, that sounds like they are saying something a bit more controversial. 

 

The etymology of the word nice has its roots in words thar refer to frivolity and silliness, while the root of the word kindness is kindred or family. So the original meaning of kindness speaks to treating others as if they’re members of your own family, while niceness usually suggests one is being pleasant but with far less of an emotional investment. Do a search under the terms “nice vs kind” and you’ll find lots of interesting articles that elaborate on the subject.

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What a word meant 700 years ago back when it was first adopted into English, while interesting, sometimes has precious little to do with what a word means today. 

Tons of words have evolved over time to mean something totally different now than what they did centuries ago.

In fact, the current meaning can sometimes be pretty much the polar opposite of what was meant originally (see, e.g., awful). 

So, like it or not, the word "nice" encompasses the word kind nowadays. As in, it sure was nice of you to help that old lady cross the street. Or even (more seasonally), he's making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice. 

If one wants to distinguish between politeness and kindness, then why not just say so? Why try to obscure the matter by using the word "nice," when nice can literally be used to mean kind as well?

 

Edited by Amulek
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4 hours ago, Amulek said:

What a word meant 700 years ago back when it was first adopted into English, while interesting, sometimes has precious little to do with what a word means today. 

Tons of words have evolved over time to mean something totally different now than what they did centuries ago.

In fact, the current meaning can sometimes be pretty much the polar opposite of what was meant originally (see, e.g., awful). 

So, like it or not, the word "nice" encompasses the word kind nowadays. As in, it sure was nice of you to help that old lady cross the street. Or even (more seasonally), he's making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice. 

If one wants to distinguish between politeness and kindness, then why not just say so? Why try to obscure the matter by using the word "nice," when nice can literally be used to mean kind as well?

 

As for Yours Truly, before this thread appeared I always thought of nice as being something akin to “kindness light,” superficially pleasant rather than genuinely compassionate in an emotionally invested way. In fact, the way see it is that I can easily imagine someone who’s had lots of practice at being nice but who is not, in reality, an authentically kind person.

In fact, I’ve known some people throughout my life who had reputations for being especially nice, but like the proverbial fly on the wall I got to see them in action when their guard was down and discovered they were actually sarcastic, quick to judge, and just plain old mean. In one instance, one of these ‘nice’ individuals was visibly horrified when she realized she had blown her cover by allowing me to see her otherwise well hidden “other side.” Meanwhile, I don’t see kind people as being your usual run of the mill two faced hypocrites . But these are just my perceptions and I’m perfectly willing to listen to the observations of others who perceive the issues of this low intensity debate in a different way.

Edited by teddyaware
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